Finishing the Wild Bobwhite Quail Feeder

This is the second and concluding part of my post about building a wild bobwhite quail feeder that can withstand the ravages of deer, coons and other critters.  While the cost of wasted feed is a true dollar cost, the real cost is that the wild bobwhite quail don’t return to a feeder once it has been raided by critters and this makes it very difficult to have an accurate count of raising quail.  My primary purpose in building the feeders is to improve my method of counting the quail rather than to try and supplement their feed.  I will place the feeder in a primary quail habitat location.  The key difference with this wild bobwhite quail feeder is that it contains a small electric fence to keep the critters away.  This approach has worked successfully on deer feeders and I’m hoping that it will be successful on my wild bobwhite quail feeder.

On/Off Switch for the Bobwhite Quail Feeder

Switch for Bobwhite Quail Feeder
Silver Electrical Switch for Bobwhite Quail Feeder

Since the wild bobwhite quail feeder is electrified, it makes sense to have an On/Off switch to prevent getting shocked when tending the feeder.  If you’re raising quail, it is important to regularly tend the quail feeder.  I’ve seen situations where the electrical device attached to a feeder did not have a switch it the operator/tender regularly got a nasty shock.  I want to avoid that situation since the feeder will be located in a very brushy area which tend to be very good quail habitat.



Wiring Harness for the Bobwhite Quail Feeder

Brown and Yellow Internal Wiring Harness for Raising Quail Feeder
Internal Wiring Harness for Raising Quail Feeder

The internal wiring harness on the wild bobwhite quail feeder is simple.  There is a line running from the solar charger into the batter case, two lines running to the On/Off switch and a single line running to the bucket handle.  The entire system is grounded to the bucket handle which hangs from a metal rod attached to a metal T Post which is driven into the ground.  As part of my quail raising process, I put a T Post at each location where I place the surrogator which is near ideal quail habitat.



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Bobwhite Quail Feeder Electric Fence

Yellow Quail Feeder Insulators
Quail Feeder Insulators

The “electric fence” on the wild bobwhite quail feeder is built using stiff electric fence wire and six electric fence insulators.  The insulators are attached equidistant around the bucket approximately 2 inches up from the bottom of the bucket.  This will allow enough room to drill feed drainage holes to allow the feed to trickle to the ground while still deterring any critters from messing with the bucket itself.  The bucket will hang freely from a piece of rebar attached to a T Post and be allowed to swing in the wind.  The electric fence should help me retain more feed and lower my cost of raising quail while also making it easy to locate and tend when it is placed in prime quail habitat.



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Electric Fence Connections and Raising Quail

Silver Quail Feeder Electrical Wiring
Quail Feeder Electrical Wiring

The most challenging part of building the wild bobwhite quail feeder was the exit and re-entrance of the electrical wire, through the insulator so that the connections would be waterproof to the inside of the bucket.  This required some careful drilling and tricky pliers work but was accomplished without drilling any additional holes.  It is important to account for quail habitat and rain water spoilage and minimize it to help reduce the costs of raising quail.







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Completed Feeder Ready for Placement in Quail Habitat

Assembled White Quail Feeder
Assembled Quail Feeder

The fully assembled and completed wild bobwhite quail feeder.  It consists of a solar charger to charge a 12V battery, a large Coon Zapper capacitor, a simple On/Off switch, six electric fence insulators and a couple feet of electric fence wire and a five gallon bucket.  Total cost of the materials was approximately $75.  Yes, in terms of feeding wild quail that is expensive but in terms of having an accurate and effective way to determine wild quail population easily I think it’s worth it.  None of my previous methods have worked very well due to raids by critters which leads to an inability to get an accurate count of the birds, in their quail habitat, that I’ve released from raising quail.









Summary of a Wild Bobwhite Quail Feeder

My wild bobwhite quail feeder is completed and another important milestone in my process of raising quail and improving the quail habitat.  I’ve installed an On/Off switch to prevent getting shocked and grounded the electrical system to the handle which will ground via the T Post.  I’ve used regular electrical fence building materials to install a ring of charged electrical wire around the perimeter of the bucket.  The wild bobwhite quail feeder cost approximately $75 and is now ready for it’s first field test.



Hunting Quail Feeder – How To Do It

I continue on my quest to find the best and least expensive way to make a hunting quail feeder to help me count the quail population so I can improve my quail hunting opportunities.  My previous posts about my first prototype quail feeder showed me learning a simple system to store and deliver the feed but that model was not adequately protected from deer and coons.  We’ve had some very good experiences using electrified zappers on the deer feeders to keep the deer and coons from raiding them.  I’ve also noticed that once the deer, and especially the coons, raid a quail feeder, that they quail generally won’t return to that feeder.  I learned of a new method from a hunting guide in New Mexico that uses a cheap five gallon bucket.  I’m testing that approach but also electrifying it to see if that improves the performance of my hunting quail feeder!

Parts to Build a Hunting Quail Feeder

Hunting Quail Feeder Parts Laid Out on Yellow Table for Raising Quail for Hunting
Hunting Quail Feeder Parts for Raising Quail for Hunting

The material to build the hunting quail feeder are pretty simple.

– A cheap 5 gallon bucket

– A waterproof container for the battery and zapper

– A solar charger for the battery

– A 12V Battery

– A Zapper

– Electric fence wire

– Electric fence insulators.

All in, the total price was approximately $75 in parts – the majority of which was the battery, zapper and solar charger.  Quail feed for my hunting quail feeders is approximately $15/bag so if this saves me 5 bags of feed over the course of a year, then I’m ahead – not to mention actually having a quail feeder that works to help me survey the population of bobwhite quail for hunting.




Mounting the Solar Battery Charger on the Quail Feeder Lid

Silver and Black Hunting Quail Feeder Solar Charger Mounted on White Bucket
Quail Feeder Solar Charger

The purpose of the solar charger is to continually recharge the 12V battery and keep the zapper working in the hunting quail feeder.  I’ve mounted the solar charger on the lid of the bucket and run the wire, with a sealing O ring down through the top of the bucket lid.  This should prevent most moisture but I will add a small amount of silicone caulk to each hole in the lid just to be sure.  The lid will have a tendency to hold a small amount of rainwater and I don’t want it running into the bucket and ruining the feed in the hunting quail feeder.



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Detail of a Waterproof Lid Design

Detail of Hunting Quail Feeder Water Tight Seal on White Bucket Lid
Hunting Quail Feeder Water Tight Seal

I selected a durable but inexpensive solar charger from Academy Sports.  It came with a sealing O ring and bracket so it was easy to use and mount on my hunting quail feeder.








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Assembling the Battery Unit in the Hunting Quail Feeder

Raising Quail for Hunting Quail Feeder Black 12V Battery with White Bucket Layout
Raising Quail for Hunting Quail Feeder Battery Layout

The waterproof container is mounted inside the hunting quail feeder and contains the 12V battery and the zapper.  I’ve run the wire from the solar charger into the top of the water proof container.  I could just place the battery and zapper directly inside the bucket but most quail feed has some moisture and I wanted to prevent any corrosion problems with the battery terminal connection on the hunting quail feeder.






Battery Case in the Quail Feeder

Hunting Quail Feeder Black Battery with Red Wires and Clear Waterproof Container Details
Quail Feeder Battery Details

I’ve place the wired 12V battery and the zapper inside of the small water proof container and will place it inside the bucket of the hunting quail feeder.  These holes in the waterproof container will also need some silicone caulk to prevent any moisture from leaking into the battery case.







Summary of Assembling a Hunting Quail Feeder

My previous attempts at building a quail feeder were successful to feed the quail but unsuccessful in keeping the varmints from raiding the hunting quail feeder.  I’ve learned of a new approach that appears to be simpler and easier to manage.  I’ve purchased and assembled the parts I need to build the hunting quail feeder for approximately $75.  The quail feeder will contain a built in battery, zapper unit and be protected by it’s own electrified fence.  This should provide adequate protection at a reasonable cost from the coons and deer raiding my hunting quail feeder.



Bobwhite Quail Feeder & Rainwater Collection


The long, hot Texas Summer is drawing to a close but the very dry weather has me continuing to work on my bobwhite quail feeder.  I’m counting on the bobwhite quail feeders to help me support the growing bird population and also provide an relatively easy place to monitor the size and health of the coveys.  Once I’ve solved the quail feeder problem, I’m going to work on providing areas with moisture to support the attraction of bugs so that the bobwhite quail chicks have a place to find the high protein food they need.

Texas Summer Drought

Dry Weather Picture of Dry River Bed Hurting Bobwhite Quail
Dry Weather Hurting Bobwhite Quail

This is a picture of the Blanco River about an hour North of San Antonio, Tx.  This river seldom runs dry and, as you can see, it is almost completely dry with only a few stagnant water holes left.  I’m sure there is some water flowing underneath because of the green vegetation in the river bed but most of the folks living in this area have had their wells run dry and their rainwater collection systems run dry as well.  This is a great indicator of why a bobwhite quail feeder is almost a requirement this year.









Bobwhite Quail Feeder Problem

Silver Aluminum Prototype Collar with Cage on Bobwhite Quail Feeder
Prototype Collar on Bobwhite Quail Feeder

I’ve copied a bobwhite quail feeder design from another fellow who is having good success with his feeders but I hvae not yet solved the problem of keeping the other hungry critters away from the bobwhite quail feed.  I load these feeders with scratch grains and each feeder holds about 15 pounds of feed.  Between the deer, coons and hogs, they can clean me out in a week.  I tried the cage around the feeder and the critters just lifted it up.  So, I put a collar on the feeder to prevent them from lifting it up and they just tunnel underneath it.  Not mention that the coons just push right through the little 4 inch square holes.  Each of these steps has reduced the amount of feed I’m giving away but has not eliminated it.  Additionally, I seldom see quail at a feeder once it has been found and raided by the critters.  I think the quail can either smell or sense the critter activity and avoid that location.


Hoof Rats Raiding the Bobwhite Quail Feeder

Night Photo of a Bobwhite Quail Feeder Being Raided by Deer on It's Knees
Bobwhite Quail Feeder Raided by Deer

Deer are little more than hoof rats.  They will get into and almost destroy anything that has feed in it.  Now, I don’t mind feeding the deer as they are valuable wildlife and we do enjoy hunting them.  That said, I want them to eat at the deer feeders and not the bobwhite quail feeder.







Optimum Feed Flow in a Bobwhite Quail Feeder

White Plastic Bobwhite Quail Feeder Showing Feed Flow onto Ground
Bobwhite Quail Feeder Feed Flow

The current design of the feed flow in the bobwhite quail feeder is working well.  I finally got the holes large enough that the feed will flow with gravity but not flow too much.  This was a challenging exercise and I had to bring a drill and drill bit with me each week and continue to slightly enlarge the holes until I achieved the proper feed flow.






Commercial Rainwater Collection System with Enhancements

Green Plastic Rainwater Collector with Increased Size of Aluminum Panel Sheeting
Rainwater Collector Increased Size

Rainwater collection systems are growing in popularity in Central Texas – especially with the recent drought.  Texas A&M is predicting that this drought will last another 7 to 10 years so we are investing in rainwater collectors to support our wildlife.  The basic unit is a 250 gallon tank which is hooked to a water hose and runs to a watering bowl with a float in it.  The basic collection area is approximately 6 feet by 8 feet and collects approximately 1 gallon of water per square foot for each 1 inch of rain.  In addition to installing more rainwater collectors, we came up with the idea of simply increasing the collection area on the existing collectors.  Rain has been sparse and increasing the amount of rain collected during each rain event has proven to be an inexpensive and valuable approach.  IN this case, we tripled the rainwater collection area and increased our collection rate from 48 gallons per inch of rain to well over 120 gallons per inch of rain.


DIY Rainwater Collection System

New Blue Plastic Barrel Rainwater Collector for Bobwhite Quail
New Rainwater Collector for Bobwhite Quail

While there are affordable commercial rainwater collection systems, they aren’t cheap.  They cost approximately $750 to build and install.  We invented our own with cheap plastic barrels to hold the rainwater and scrap iron.  The total dollar cost on this unit was less than $150.  However, the labor cost was higher as it required some time to thin, design, engineer, install and tune this system.  You can see the float controlled water bowl in the foreground.  The three barrels are connected via simple piping and this unit has a 150 gallon capacity.  It will be easy to expand the capacity with additional barrels if and when it might be needed.




Seep Muhlie and Underground Water

Dun Colored Seep Muhlie Plants Indicate Underground Water Potential for Bobwhite Quail
Seep Muhlie Plants Indicate Water for Bobwhite Quail

Seep Muhlie is a plant that occasionally indicates the presence of underground water.  Big Muhlie, a larger variety, definitely indicates the presence of an underground spring.  We’ve tried water witching or dowsing several times and always get a very positive reading over seep muhlie.  Additionally, the soil where seep muhlie grows tends to be heavy with clays which is also a good indicator of either underground water or water holding capability.






What Lies Under Seep Muhlie?

Shallow Excavation in Clay Soil Under Seep Muhlie Plants Showing Soil Strata
Shallow Excavation Under Seep Muhlie

We needed some extra fill dirt for a barn we recently built so we had the contractor take the dirt from underneath a small area where seep muhlie were growing.  I was hoping we’d tap right into a flowing spring (not really) but we didn’t find anything except more dry clayish dirt.  I’m not done yet as I do believe in the effectiveness of the dowsing rods.  Nevertheless, I do think this area has god water holding capacity so we also located the dig near a spot that will have good runoff if and when it does rain.






Summary of Rainwater Collection and Bobwhite Quail Feeder

The Texas drought is drawing to a close.  We’ve had a bit of rain recently and the temperatures are cooling off.  Too little too late I think and we are doubling down on our support mechanisms for our wildlife.  I continue experimenting with my bobwhite quail feeder to reduce the feed loss due to critters.  We also continue to invest time and money in rainwater harvesting and collection.  It’s going to be a tough winter for the wildlife but early indications are that our current efforts are helping.  Our white tail deer population is maturing nicely and we are regularly seeing bobwhite quail near the bobwhite quail feeder, in small groups with babies and in larger coveys.